1861 Construction of the first cross-peninsula
railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key was completed today. David
Levy Yulee, United States Senator from Florida, was the driving
force behind this railroad. Although used very little because of the
outbreak of the War between the States in April, the railroad made
Cedar Key a major urban site in the immediate postwar years.
1864 The U.S.S. Roebuck seized the
blockade-running British steamer Lauretta off the Indian River Inlet
today. The Lauretta was carrying a cargo of salt.
1901 W. V. Knott assumed the of Treasurer of the
State of Florida today.
1920 The Independent Life and Accident Insurance
Company was chartered today. The home offices of the firm were
located in Jacksonville.
1934 Primo Canera beat Tommy Loughran in a
heavyweight title bout in Miami.
1840 The Presbyterian Congregation of
Jacksonville was established today.
1841 Company K of the 2nd United States
Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant William Alburtis, today
fought two engagements with the Seminoles at Orange Creek bridge,
near Fort Brooke. The American casualties were 3 enlisted men
killed, 1 enlisted man missing and presumed killed, and 6 enlisted
men wounded. The Seminole force number between 70 and 100, while the
American force consisted of only about 20 men.
1861 John B. Galbraith assumed the office of
Florida Attorney General today.
1863 Forces from the Federal gunboat Sagamore
attempted to capture the Confederate blockade runner Florence
Nightingale as it was loading a cargo of cotton in Mosquito Inlet
near New Smyrna. The Sagamore shelled the area from its position at
sea and then sent men on barges to capture the ship. The captain of
the Nightingale set fire to the ship to prevent its capture.
Confederate forces on land repelled the Federal boarding crews. The
fire on the blockade runner were then extinguished, and the
Nightingale successfully put to sea despite having lost its main
mast and most of its provisions.
1864 Confederate General Pierre Beauregard
arrived at Camp Milton on McGirt's Creek. He is seeking to organize
three infantry brigades under General J. J. Finegan and Alfred H.
Colquitt, a cavalry brigade under Colonel Robert H. Anderson, and an
artillery brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Colquitt Jones.
1865 In an effort to avoid capture by the U.S.S.
Fox, the crew of the blockade runner Rob Rey ran her ashore and set
fire to her in Deadman's Bay. The cargo removed from the blazing
ship by the crew of the Fox consisted of cavalry sabers and farm
1900 The first organizational meeting of the
Florida Audubon Society was held today in Maitland. The Society's
immediate purpose was to stop the slaughter of the hundreds of
thousands of Florida's plume birds for the sole purpose of providing
decorations to the latest hats worn by women.
1936 Halsted L. Ritter of Miami, Judge of the U.
S. Court for the Southern District of Florida, was impeached today.
He was accused of a variety of judicial improprieties. He was
convicted by a vote of 56-28 in the United States Senate on the
charge of bringing the court into disrepute. He was found innocent
of six additional charges.
1959 Today was the final day Florida orange
growers were allowed to used a coal-tar-based orange dye to enhance
the appearance of Florida oranges. Traditionally, citrus growers had
immersed oranges in vats of this dye to make them uniformly bright
1972 The United States today launched the
Pioneer 10 spacecraft on its voyage to the planet Jupiter. The
Pioneer 10 will come with 100,000 miles of the planet for four days
before traveling to the edge of the solar system. The Pioneer 10
carries a record containing greetings from Earth and information
about our planet directed toward any extraterrestrial beings that
might intercept it in space.
1991 Disney World unveiled the world's largest
cylindrical sundial today in ceremonies in Orlando.
1783 British refugees from the newly established
United States of America and British military officers in St.
Augustine were treated to benefit performances of "The Beau
Strategem" and "Miss in Her Teens" by the local theatrical groups.
British officers were awaiting the final transfer of military and
civil authority to the Spanish.
1821 East and West Florida are unified under the
control of General Andrew Jackson today.
1836 Surrounded by Seminole warriors at camp
Izard and unable to be re-supplied, General Edmund P. Gaines orders
his men to kill their horses and mules for food.
1841 The United States Congress appropriated
$1,061,816 for the prosecution of the Second Seminole War and
ordered a vigorous prosecution of hostilities.
1845 Florida was admitted into the United States
as the twenty-seventh state today. President John Tyler signed the
act of admission.
1862 United States naval forces, under the
command of Flag Officer Samuel DuPont, today reported that they had
control of Cumberland Island and Sound, Fernandina and Amelia
Island, and the river and town of St. Mary's." Fort Clinch on Amelia
Island was occupied by forces from the U.S.S. Ottawa and became the
first Confederate fort to be re-taken by Union forces. The Federal
navy also captured the Confederate steamer Darlington with a cargo
of military supplies. Confederate forces retreated inland, carrying
their heavy guns.
1865 The U.S.S. Honeysuckle captured the
blockade runner Phantom as she attempted to enter the Suwannee
River. The Phantom was carrying a cargo of liquors and bar iron.
1865 A Federal naval squadron of twelve steamers
and four sloops, commanded by Commander R. W. Shufeldt, today joined
Federal army troops commanded by Brigadier General John Newton in an
assault on St. Marks Fort below Tallahassee. Although the attack on
the fort was unsuccessful, Federal ship succeeded in blockading the
mouth of the St. Mark's River. Confederate officials anticipate that
this is the opening gambit in a campaign to capture Tallahassee.
1905 The Tallahassee "Democrat" was founded
1926 The International Greyhound Racing
Association was formed today in Miami. The purpose of the
Association was to establish standards for the sport.
1969 At Cape Canaveral, NASA launches Apollo 9
in its first test of the lunar module.
1823 Richard Keith Call assumed the position of
Florida Territorial Representative in the United States House of
1824 On this date, Tallahassee officially became
the capital of Florida. Governor William Pope Duval, the first
Territorial Governor, issued the proclamation.
1841 Company D of the 2nd United States
Infantry, under the command of Captain E. K. Barnum, engaged in
battle with a group of Seminoles today on the Oklawaha River. Two
American enlisted men were wounded. Seminole casualties were
1857 Units of the United State 4th Artillery and
5th Infantry were attacked today by Seminoles near Big Cypress
Swamp. The American casualties were 12 enlisted men killed, six
enlisted men wounded, and one officer, a Lieutenant Freeman,
wounded. Seminole casualties were not determined.
1861 Floridian Stephen R. Mallory is confirmed
by the Confederate Congress as the Secretary of the Navy. Tow of
Florida's Representatives, Jackson Morton and James B. Owens,
vehemently oppose his confirmation.
1862 The Federal ship, U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba
captured the sloop, O.K., of the coast near Cedar Keys today. While
being taken to St. Mark's, the O.K. floundered.
1863 The U.S.S. James S. Chambers seized the
blockade-running Spanish sloop Relampago and schooner Ida today. The
Ida, beached at Sanibel island, could not escape and was destroyed
by a crew from the Chambers.
1865 The Federal flotilla recently assembled and
which assaulted St. Mark's yesterday landed 1,000 Union troops near
St. Mark's lighthouse. The troops prepared to move inland. In
Tallahassee, Confederate authorities were hastily assembling
whatever forces they can muster to stave off the anticipated attack
on the capital city.
1871 Josiah T. Walls, a Virginia-born
African-American, was sworn into office today to begin his five-year
tenure as a member of the United States House of representatives
1886 S. W. Prichard of Haines City was elected
the first president of the Florida State Teachers's Association at
its meeting in DeFuniak Springs. The FSTA was later re-named the
Florida Education Association.
1929 Ruth Bryan Owne began the first of her two
terms in the United States House of Representatives from Florida's
Fourth Congressional District.
1972 Although the Florida House of
Representatives approved the Equal Rights Amendment by a vote of
84-3, it was not considered in the Florida Senate.
1823 Four companies of United States troops from
Pensacola landed in Tampa Bay today to establish Fort Brooke. The
City of Tampa grew up around this fort.
1856 Collection and exchange operations at
Florida's oldest bank--the Lewis State Bank--were started today in
Tallahassee. The bank was formed by Tallahassee resident B. C.
1862 The U.S.S. water Witch today captured the
schooner William Malley off St. Andrew's Bay.
1864 Confederate cavalry hero Captain J. J.
Dickinson is today ordered to proceed with his men to Palatka and to
place himself under the command of the commanding officer of the 4th
Florida Cavalry Regiment.
1865 Federal forces have occupied the left bank
of the St. Mark's River as far inland as Newport. Federal commander
General John Newton is expected to move his forces toward Natural
Bridge. Federal success here will mean that Tallahassee will fall.
Confederate forces are moving to prevent the successful passage of
the Union force.
1889 The Pensacola "News," the forerunner of the
Pensacola "News-Journal," was founded today.
1966 The Dallas Cowboys' receiver Michael Irvin
was born today in Fort Lauderdale.
1836 As Osceola and a band of his followers were
negotiating with General Edmund P. Gaines at Fort Izard, General
Duncan Clinch approached with troops and unaware that a parley was
going on, fired on the Seminoles, dispersing their numbers.
1837 Peace treaty signed by Jumper,
Holalatoochee (Davy), Yaholoochee (Cloud), Hoeth-lee-mat-tee and
John Ca-wy-ya, Seminole chieftains, at Fort Drane. Terms specified
that all hostilities would cease immediately and that the followers
of these individuals would be send to the Indian Territory
(Oklahoma). Within a few days, some 700 Seminoles were gathered near
Fort Brooke (Tampa) in preparation for departure.
1861 The Palatka Guards, a volunteer detachment
of about 300 men, leaves for Fernandina as ordered by Governor
Madison Starke Perry.
1861 Braxton E. Bragg, a Mississippi planter,
West Point graduate, and Mexican War Veteran, is named to command
the Confederate forces in Pensacola. He is a Brigadier general.
1862 The U.S.S. Pursuit today captured the
schooner Anna Belle off Apalachicola.
1865 The Federal attempt to capture Tallahassee
was thwarted today by a motley collection of Confederate troops,
soldiers on leave or recuperating from medical problems, and cadets
from the West Florida Seminary (now Florida State University), at
Natural Bridge, about twenty miles south of the city. Despite a
considerable numerical advantage, the Federal troops could not
overcome the Confederates' use of natural defenses to reach the
city. Following the failure of this Union attempt, Federal troops
withdrew to St. Marks. Tallahassee remained the only Confederate
capital east of the Mississippi to escape capture and occupation by
Union forces during the Civil War.
Two Federal efforts to cross natural Bridge were
repelled this morning. When Confederate reinforcement arrived, Union
commander ordered their troops to retreat to the safety of the naval
vessels at anchor near St. Mark's lighthouse. Federal loses in the
Battle of natural Bridge are put at 21 killed, 89 wounded, and 38
missing. Confederate authorities report 3 killed, 22 wounded, and
(For more information on the Battle of Natural
Bridge, see the Winter 1999 issue of "The Florida Historical
1933 Chicago mayor Anton Cermak died of wounds
inflicted when an assassin attempted to kill President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt on February 15 in Miami.
1947 Dick Pope, Jr., became the first known
person to water ski barefoot on Lake Eloise at Cypress Gardens.
1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell set a world speed
record of 276 mph today on the sand at Daytona Beach. Campbell's
car, the "Bluebird," produced 2,500 horsepower and cost an estimated
$200,000. More than 50,000 spectators watched as Campbell
established the record.
1862 The mayor of Jacksonville today issued a
proclamation urging citizens of that city to stay in their homes and
to pursue their normal vocations in the face of an anticipated
Federal assault on the city. Confederate authorities have informed
the mayor that they will make no effort to defend Jacksonville.
1865 The Federal flotilla at anchor off St.
Mark's lighthouse today weighed anchor and sailed away. The Union
attempt to seize Tallahassee was an abject failure. The expedition
lost a total of 148 men killed, wounded or missing.
1982 The Salvador Dali Museum opened in St.
1861 The "Charleston Mercury" reports that
Confederate Representatives in Congress James B. Owens and Jackson
Morton continue their attack on Florida Stephen Mallory, the new
Confederate Secretary of the Navy, for being a self-seeker and of
having shown "bad faith toward Florida, his native state." Mallory
is still officially a member of the United States Senate, a position
that he will continue to occupy until the Senate officially accepts
his resignation, which it does on March 11.
1862 This afternoon a Federal force of several
ships and a transport with the 4th New Hampshire Infantry aboard
left Fernandina for the St. Johns River. They are bing joined by
forces from Port Royal, South carolina, under the command of Colonel
Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
1862 The U.S.S. Sagamore today captured the
sloop Enterprise, which had left the Mosquito Inlet for Nassau with
a cargo of cotton.
1864 Union General Truman Seymour asks for
artillery reinforcements for Jacksonville to ensure that the city
will not be taken. He reports that Confederate forces have moved to
King's Road and are also in the Six-Mile/cedar Creek area.
1865 Union forces left Jacksonville yesterday
for an expedition into Marion County. Their progress westward
continues today and has largely been unimpeded by Florida
1894 First annual camp meeting held in Tampa by
the Seventh Day Adventist.
1836 General Duncan Clinch takes command of U.S.
troops in Florida from General Edmund P. Gaines. Gaines then
proceeds to Tallahassee and to the western frontier from that city.
1844 Miami is designated by the Florida
Legislature as the seat of Dade County.
1861 Governor Madison Starke Perry receives the
first Confederate requisition of Florida troops from Secretary of
the Army L. Pope Walker.
1922 Florida State Board of Health concludes a
rat "proofing" campaigning in Pensacola that confined an outbreak of
bubonic plague to that city.
1936 Sidney Johnston Catts, 22nd governor of
Florida (1917-1921) died today at his home in DeFuniak Springs. [For
more information, see entries for July 31 and January 2]
1955 Ballet dancer and choreographer Bujones
Fernando was born today in Miami.
1966 The Florida Legislature approved a plan for
reapportionment of the Legislature with a 117-member House of
representatives and a 48-member Senate. The plan was rejected by the
United States Supreme Court after the November 1966 state elections.
1986 U.S. Navy divers find the crew compartment
of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle, which exploded
immediately after take-off on January 28, 1986. The compartment
contains the remains of the dead astronauts.
1999 Joe DiMaggio, the famous "Yankee Clipper,"
died today at his home in Hollywood, Florida. DiMaggio, whose 56
game hitting streak in 1941 is a major league record, played
thirteen years for the New York Yankees. He was a three-time MVP of
the American League and played in 9 World Series. Of these, the
Yankees won seven. DiMaggio's career was cut short somewhat by a
three-year stint in the military during World War II. He was "the
most complete baseball player that ever played the game," according
to former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger Tommy LaSorda.
1836 As General Duncan Clinch leads U. S. Troops
to Fort Drane, his column comes under sustained attacks by Seminole
warriors today and tomorrow.
1845 Levy County, Florida's 26th county, was
created today by the Florida legislature. The county is named in
honor of David Levy Yulee, prominent politician, statesman, and
railroad entrepreneur. Levy owned a 5,000 acre plantation on the
Homosassa River, where he grew sugar cane and produced sugar. Levy
was the first United States Senator to represent the new state of
Florida. County Seat: Bronson
1862 Federal naval forces under Lieutenant T. H.
Stevens temporarily occupied Jacksonville today.
1862 St. Augustine has been evacuated by two
companies of Confederate troops that had been stationed there. A
Federal invasion is considered likely to happen within the next
1863 A Federal force, made up primarily of
African-American troops, reoccupied Jacksonville today. It was
opposed unsuccessfully by the Florida 2nd Cavalry and the Florida
2nd Infantry Battalion, which retreated in the face of a bombardment
from Federal gunboats.
1863 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea today captured
the sloop Petee, which was attempting to run the blockade at Indian
River Inlet with a cargo of salt.
1864 Union forces occupied Palatka this morning
without opposition. Although they did not oppose the occupation of
the city, Confederate forces are reported on the outskirts of the
town. Federal forces are concerned about the location of small river
steamers used to transport troops and supplies along the St. Johns
1909 LeRoy Collins, the 33rd governor of Florida
(1955-1961), is born today in Tallahassee. [For more information,
see entry for January 4.]
1984 The streets of Miami erupted in riots today
when the news came that a Hispanic policeman had been acquitted in
the slaying of an African-American.
1843 Wakulla County, Florida's 23rd county, was
created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The county
takes its name from the famous Wakulla Springs, which are nearby.
The exact meaning of the word "Wakulla" is unknown, although it is
thought to be of Timucuan origin and probably refers to "springs of
water." County Seat: Crawfordville
1861 General Braxton E. Bragg arrives in
Pensacola and relieves Major General William H. Chase of his command
of all Confederate troops in or near the city.
1862 The U.S.S. Wabash landed today in St.
Augustine. The ship's commander, C. R. P. Rodgers, negotiates with
city leaders and occupies Fort Marion and the city. There was no
1862 Two Confederate gunboats under construction
in Pensacola Bay have been burned to prevent their capture by
Federal naval forces.
1863 Confederate forces attacked Union positions
in Jacksonville today and forced the Federal soldiers to retreat to
their gunboats. Confederate forces penetrated the city as far as the
Judson House Square before retreating. Confederate losses are placed
at one man, lost or killed.
1864 Federal naval forces report a great deal of
activity today and the capture of several blockade runner. The
U.S.S. San Jacinto reported the capture of a schooner with a cargo
of turpentine and 132 bales of cotton in the Gulf of Mexico, while
the U.S.S. Beauregard reported the capture of the British sloop
Hannah off the coast of Mosquito Inlet. The commander of the
Beauregard, acting in concert with the Federal schooner, Norfolk
Packet, pursued the British schooner, Linda, up the Indian River
Inlet. Although Union forces were forced to take to the shore when
they boat was grounded, the Linda, lowered its sails and surrendered
after shots were fired. The British vessel was destined for new
Smyrna with a cargo of salt, liquors, coffee, and dry goods.
1869 Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned in Fort
Jefferson in Florida's Dry Tortugas, was released today after being
pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Mudd had been convicted of
being part of the conspiracy to kill Federal President Abraham
Lincoln in 1865. Mudd set the broken leg of actor John Wilkes Booth,
the assassin of Lincoln. There were serious doubts about his
participation in the conspiracy in 1865 and practically no one today
believes that Mudd was in any way connected to the conspiracy. Dr.
Mudd was a distant relative of noted television correspondent, Roger
1870 The Catholic diocese of St. Augustine was
formally established today. The Very Reverend Jean-Pierre Augustin
Marcellin Verot was installed as the first bishop.
1873 St. Luke's Hospital, the oldest
continuously operating hospital in Florida, opened today in
Jacksonville with two rooms and four beds.
1882 The City of DeLand is incorporated today.
1921 The Florida Branch of the national Congress
of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Association met today in Jacksonville.
Mrs. Arthur G. Cummer was elected president.
1929 Major Seagraves established a new
automobile speed record today at Daytona Beach. He reached an
average speed of 223.2 miles-per-hour in a 450 horse powered Golden
1812 The Territory of East Florida was declared
to be in existence today on Amelia Island.
1849 Colonel Robert E. Lee completed and filed
the "Report of the Board of Engineers Upon Their Examination of the
West and East Coast of Florida, from Pensacola Harbor to Amelia
Island" with the Chief of Engineers, United States Army. The
"Report" made recommendations for the establishment of military
reservations along the coast. Lee, who was the Recorder for the
Board, filed his final report on March 14, 1849.
1863 According to Confederate pickets outside
Jacksonville, Federal forces occupying the city were reinforced by
the arrival of two Union gunboats today.
1968 In Miami, gunmen hijack a National Airlines
DC-8 and force the crew to fly it to Havana.
1863 The U.S.S. Huntsville today seized the
British blockade runner Surprise off the mouth of Charlotte Harbor.
The Surprise was bound for Havana with a cargo of cotton.
1864 The U.S.S. Columbine, operating in support
of Union troops moving up the St. Johns River, today captured the
Confederate steamer General Sumter on Lake George. The Sumter was
carrying passengers to the Oklawaha.
1864 Union forces report a combined Confederate
force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery is moving about six miles
inland from the town of Palatka.
1974 Death penalty advocates in Florida joined
other advocates around the United States as the U.S. Senate prepared
to vote today on the restoration of the death penalty. When the vote
came, it was 54-33 in favor of restoration.
1992 Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker were divorced in
Tallahassee today following Jim's conviction and imprisonment for
defrauding contributors to his "Praise the Lord" television
1993 Twenty-six persons were killed today in a
storm that covered the whole East Coast of Florida.
1844 Marion County, Florida's 24th county, was
created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The name of
the county honors Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion,
known as the "Swamp Fox." Many of the county's earliest settlers
came from South Carolina. County Seat: Ocala
1844 Brevard County, Florida's 25th county, was
created today by the Florida Territorial Legislature. The county is
most probably named for Theodore Washington Brevard, a Florida
politician who served from 1853-1861 as the State Comptroller. The
county was originally named St. Lucie County, but the name was
changed to Brevard County on January 6, 1855. St. Lucie County was
restored to the map in 1905, when another county was created and
given that name. County Seat: Titusville
1903 Pelican island National Wildlife refuge,
located in the Indian River Lagoon, became the first national refuge
today. President Theodore Roosevelt authorized the creation of the
refuge following a visit to the area. Rodney Kreigel became the
first game warden for the refuge.
1950 Disk jockey and talk-show host Rick Dees
was born today in Jacksonville.
1961 Floyd Patterson knocked out Ingemar
Johansson in the sixth round of a heavyweight championship match in
1831 Edward Aylsworth Perry, the 14th governor
of Florida (1885-1889), was born today in Richmond, Massachusetts.
Perry attended Yale, taught school briefly in Alabama, and took up
residence in Pensacola, where he practiced law. Joining the
Confederate Armyas a private, he rose to the rank of Brigadier
General. His administration as governor was marked by the adoption
of a new State Constitution and by the creation of the State Board
of Education to advance public schools. After his tenure as
governor, Perry returned to Pensacola where he died on October 15,
1840 Seminole warriors attacked a unit of the
7th United States Infantry near Fort Drane today. The unit,
commanded by Lieutenant W. K. Hanson, suffered one enlisted man
wounded. No record exists of Seminole casualties.
1863 Confederate intelligence reports indicate
the presence of three Federal regiments in Jacksonville, two made up
of white soldiers and one of Negroes. These reports also indicate
the presence of four to five gunboats with 25-30 heavy guns. These
guns are capable of providing artillery fire for the Federal land
forces throughout the city.
1864 Confederate Major General Patton Anderson,
the Confederate commander in Florida, today issued Special Order 8,
which calls for the impressment of 700 slaves for the purpose of
constructing defenses against the Federal forces now occupying
1911 William Dunnington Bloxham, the 13th
(1881-1885) and 17th (1897-1901) governor of Florida (1881-1885),
died today in Tallahassee. Bloxham was born in Leon County in 1835.
Although he graduated with a law degree from William and Mary
College, he was a planter. During the Civil War, he commanded an
infantry company. [For more information see the entry for January 5]
1960 The Key Largo Coral Reef Preserve was
1836 General Richard Keith Call is nominated as
the Third Territorial Governor of Florida by President Andrew
1862 The U.S.S. Oswasco captured two Confederate
schooners in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The
Eugenia and the President were carrying cargoes of cotton. In
Richmond, the Confederate Congress passed a resolution urging that
no cotton be planted in the Confederacy this year. The purpose of
this resolution is to put pressure of British textile manufacturers
to force the British government to officially recognize the
1863 The U.S.S. Octorara today reported the
capture of two blockade runners, the Rosalie and the Five Brothers
off the east coast of Florida.
1864 The 48th New York Volunteer Infantry, part
of the Federal force occupying Palatka, was attacked today by a
small force of Confederate cavalry. Two federal soldiers were
1865 The U.S.S. Pursuit captured the British
schooner Mary today as the British ship attempted to run the
blockade at Indian River.
1910 Barney Oldfield established a new land
speed record of 131.7 miles-per-hour at Daytona Beach today.
1952 The first 12-hour endurance race at Sebring
was won today at 1:00 a.m. by Larry Kulok and Harry Gray. The two
men won by piloting a Frazier-Nash built and owned by Duke Donaldson
for 145 laps.
1981 The American public was informed by news
media sources that the United State government had established
training facilities for members of the Nicaraguan "Contra"
organization in the Everglades near Miami.
*****TODAY IS ST. PATRICK'S DAY!*****
1812 Fernandina was surrendered today by Spanish
soldiers to General John H. McIntosh's "patriots" of the Republic of
Florida, who were accompanied by an American naval squadron and
United States Army troops.
1828 Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat was
admitted to the practice of law today in Tallahassee. Murat, the
Crown Prince of Naples, was a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, the
deposed Emperor of France.
1864 Federal forces occupying Palatka continue
to experience probes by Confederate cavalry units as they anxiously
await the arrival of the Union gunboat, Ottawa, whose weapons will
provide protection for the land forces.
1946 Jackie Robinson, newly acquired by the
Brooklyn Dodgers, played his first exhibition game with the major
league team today in Daytona Beach.
1958 Vanguard I, the first rocket in the
Vanguard series, achieved orbit today with a 3.5 pound satellite
aboard. The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral.
1969 Today marked the end of a streak of 768
consecutive days of sunshine in Florida.
1854 William Pope DuVal, the first Territorial
governor of Florida (1822-1834), died today in Washington, D.C.
DuVal was born in Virginia in 1784. His father was an associate of
Patrick Henry and was active in the Revolutionary War. William Pope
DuVal migrated to Bardstown, Kentucky, when he was only 14 years of
age. There he studied law and was admitted to the bar when he was
19. He served as a captain of the mounted rangers in the War of
1812. He served as a member of the United States House of
Representatives from 1813 until 1815. In 1815, President James
Monroe appointed him to the position of Territorial Judge. In 1822,
President Monroe appointed him Territorial governor. Presidents John
Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson reappointed him. Duval County is
named in his honor.
1874 Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, who was only 34
years of age, assumed the office of Governor of Florida (acting)
today following the death of Governor Ossian Bingley Hart. Stearns
became the 11th governor (1874-1877) of the state. He was born in
Lovell, Maine, and came to Florida as a member of the Freedman's
Bureau after having lost an arm while on duty with the Union Army.
Stationed in Quincy (the Panhandle), Stearns remained in Gadsden
County following his release from military service. He served in the
1868 Constitutional Convention as Gadsden County's representative in
Florida's lower house from 1868 until 1872. From 1869 until 1872, he
was Speaker. In 1869, he was appointed by President U. S. Grant to
the position of United States Surveyor-General of Florida, a
position he held until 1873. Elected Lieutenant Governor in 1872, he
succeeded to the chief executive's chair on the death of Hat.
Stearns was defeated when he sought a regular term as governor in
1876. In 1877, he was appointed a United States Commissioner at Hot
Springs, Arkansas. He held that position until 1880. Stearns died on
December 8, 1891, and is buried at Lovell, Maine.
1874 Ossian Bingley Hart, the 10th governor of
Florida (1873-1874), died of pneumonia today in Jacksonville. Hart,
a Republican, was an attorney who had opposed secession. [For more
information, see the entry for January 7]
1925 Fire destroyed the famous Breakers Hotel in
Palm Beach today. At the time of the fire, the Breakers was thought
to be the largest wooden structure in the world.
1963 The United States Supreme Court
significantly altered American jurisprudence today when it ruled on
the case of Clarence Earl Gideon, a resident of Panama City, who was
imprisoned at the Florida State Prison. Gideon sued for release on
the grounds that he had not been provided with the services of an
attorney. The Supreme Court agreed with his contention that such
legal representation should be furnished any indigent defendant.
Gideon was released and retried. With the help of a court-appointed
lawyer, he was acquitted in the second trial.
1823 United States Secretary of War John C.
Calhoun ordered the creation of a road between St. Augustine and St.
Mary's. Calhoun also ordered a survey for a road between St.
Augustine and Pensacola.
1843 Tallahassee residents participated in a
Presbyterian-led revival that lasted for tow weeks. Many older
church members pledged themselves to renew their memberships while
scores of new members were recruited. This was part of the
nationwide revival movement.
1862 General J. H. Trapier was relieved of
command of the Confederate Department of Florida today. He was
replaced temporarily by Colonel W. S. Dilworth. Trapier was ordered
to report for duty on the staff of General Albert Sydney Johnston.
1865 Florida troops are fighting under the command
of General Joseph E. Johnston at Bentonville, North Carolina, in an
effort to prevent Federal General William T. Sherman and Ulysses S.
Grant from linking their armies together. Florida units include the
3rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Regiment,
and the 7th Infantry Regiment.
1883 United States Army General Joseph Warren
"Vinegar Joe" Stilwell was born today in Palatka.
1981 One technician was killed and two were
injured on tests on the space shuttle Columbia at cape Canaveral
1982 Guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed in an
airplane crash at Orlando today.
1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles was named
Adelantado, Governor and Captain-General of Florida, today by the
King of Spain.
1839 Captain McKay of Company E, 2nd United
States Infantry, was wounded in a clash with Seminole warrior today
near Etonia Scrub. McKay eventually died of his wound.
1863 Confederate and Federal forces clashed
today in a minor skirmish at St. Andrew's Bay.
1864 The U.S.S. Tioga captured the Confederate
sloop Swallow off Florida's east coast today. The sloop had a cargo
of cotton, rosin, and tobacco and was bound for Nassau. Twelve
Confederates were captured.
1872 The section of railroad between Quincy and
River Junction (Chattahoochee) was completed today as part of the
Jacksonville, Pensacola, and Mobile Railroad.
1895 The City of Newberry was incorporated
1914 The Jacksonville chapter of the American
Red Cross, the first such chapter in the state, was organized today.
1933 Guiseppe Zangara, the assassin of Chicago
Mayor Anton Cermak, was executed today. [For more information, see
entry for February 15]
1964 Two Cuban hi-jackers land at commandeered
Cuban military helicopter at Key West today and ask for political
1949 WTVJ-TV, Miami's first television station,
aired its first broadcast today.
1953 Robert Johnson, the drummer with "KC and
the Sunshine Band," was born today in Miami.
1953 Governor David Scholtz, the 26th governor
of Florida (1933-1937) died today in the Florida Keys. [See entry
for October 6 for more information.]
1965 NASA launched Ranger 9 today from Cape
"Kennedy." This is the last of the ranger series of lunar
exploration space probes.
1972 An USAF B-52, with seven crew people on
board, crashed into a residential section of Orlando today.
1851 The Constitution of the Southern Rights
Association of Centreville District, and outgrowth of the
secessionist movement inherent in the Crisis of 1850-51, was
published in Tallahassee today.
1862 Two Federal gunboats, the Penquin and the
Henry Andrew, operating in the area around New Smyrna, today
attacked Confederate salt works near Mosquito Inlet.
1865 Theodore W. Brevard, in command of the 11th
Florida Infantry and Bonaud's Battalion, was commissioned a
Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. Brevard was a prominent
Florida politician who had served as the Comptroller of the State
from 1855-1860. He also served from April 3, 1854 until
November 27, 1854 in the same position.
1889 Dr. Joseph Y. Porter of Key West was worn
in today as the first Florida State Health Officer.
1931 A fire destroyed some nineteen houses and
the St. Andrews Bay Lumber Company today. The damage was estimated a
1941 Pan American Airways and the University of
Miami began teaching a navigation course today. The course,
sponsored by the United States Army, included ten British pilots.
This course would eventually be taught to more than 1200 British
students during World War II. Civilian instructors allowed the
United States to assist its ally Great Britain while maintaining the
facade of neutrality.
1982 The space shuttle Columbia was launched on
its third flight today from Cape Canaveral.
1993 Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and
Tim Crews were killed when their boat crashed into a pier on Little
Lake Nellie near Clermont. Crews, who was driving the boat, was
1862 The federal gunboats Penquin and Henry
Andrews attempted to land forces at New Smyrna today. Units of the
3rd Florida Infantry refused to allow them to land. The commanders
of the two ships were killed, along with three enlisted men. The
Confederate forces suffered no losses.
1862 A landing party from the Federal ship, the
U.S.S. Mercedita, went ashore at Apalachicola today. They discovered
that the town had been abandoned by Confederate forces.
1863 The Federal ship U.S.S. Arizona captured
the Confederate sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet today. The
Confederate ship had a cargo of 60 bales of cotton and was bound for
1927 Mamie Eaton Greene of Monticello was
appointed to the Florida Railroad Commission today by Governor John
W. Martin. Mrs. Greene replaced her husband, R. L. "Bob" Eaton, who
had died. Mrs. eaton subsequently remarried.
1964 More than 200 persons were arrested in
Jacksonville today as race riots swept through the city. One
African-American woman was killed and one white reporter severely
beaten. Mayor Hayden Burns refused to call in the National Guard or
to instruct his police force to take drastic action to curtail the
1986 Trevor Berbick defeated Pinkton Thomas for
the WBC heavyweight boxing title in Miami.
1991 The town of Manatee held the greatest egg
hunt ever staged in the United States today. Forty thousand children
hunted more than 120,000 plastic and candy eggs.
1840 Two enlisted men of the 7th United States
Infantry were killed today when that unit engaged in battle with
Seminole warriors near Fort King. The unit was commanded by Captain
G. J. Rains.
1863 William Sherman Jennings, the 18th governor
of Florida (1901-1905), was born today near Walnut Hill, Illinois.
[For more information, see entry for January 8.]
1883 T.A. Bass was elected the first mayor of
Kissimmee today at that city's initial incorporation meeting.
1899 Citizens of Tallahassee rolled out the red
carpet for President and Mrs. William McKinley. It was the first
presidential visit to Florida's capital city.
1967 More than 30,000 young people began a
three-day riot in Fort Lauderdale today. More than 500 would
eventually be arrested.
1781 Twenty-three Spanish horses and two scalps
were brought to the English fortification in Pensacola by Indian
allies of the British during the two-month long Spanish siege of the
1822 Naval Officer Matthew C. Perry today raised
the American flag over Key West, officially declaring American
sovereignty over the Keys.
1861 The Federal ship, U.S.S. General Rusk,
arrived in Key West today with a complement of 300 men for service
at Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas) and in the city.
1862 A party of Confederate guerillas attacked a
Federal picket station near Jacksonville this morning. One Union
soldier was killed, one severely wounded, three captured, and the
remaining two men in the seven man detail managed to escape.
1863 John M. Martin of Florida took his seat
today in the Confederate House of Representatives.
1863 The U.S.S. Fort Henry captured the blockade
runner Ranger off the coast of Cedar Key today.
1863 Federal soldiers from the Jacksonville
garrison advanced to Three Mile Branch today. After destroying a few
miles of railroad track and burning several houses, they were forced
to retreat to the city when Confederate artillery positions opened
1864 In the face of his disastrous defeat at
Olustee, Federal General Truman Seymour received orders to turn his
Florida command over to Union Brigadier General J. P. Hatch.
1864 The United States schooner, Stonewall, send
a landing party ashore near Sarasota today. Finding nothing
suspicious, the men returned to the ship, In the afternoon, the
Stonewall anchored near fishhouses on the shore by soon withdrew
when nothing suspicious was sighted.
1901 Plans were announced for the integration of
two new Clyde Line passenger ships to operate between Jacksonville
and New York today. The ships, nearing completion in a Delaware
shipyard, are the Apache and the Arapahoe.
1910 The town of Mount Dora, originally settled
as Royal View, was incorporated today.
1929 Gar Wood, a renown motor boat builder,
established a new world's water speed record of 93.123
miles-per-hour today in the Miami Beach regatta. Wood was driving
his boat, Miss America VII.
1863 Floridians, like most Southerners, reacted
angrily today when the Confederate Congress approved the Impressment
Act, which allowed Confederate tax collectors to impress food and
other articles useful to the Confederacy.
1915 The City of Miami Beach was incorporated
today. J. N. Lummus was elected the first mayor.
1958 The United States Army launched its third
satellite, the Explorer III, from Cape Canaveral today.
INTERESTING FLORIDA FACTS:
* There are 882 islands or "keys" in the Florida
Keys which are large enough to be recorded on the maps of the U.S.
Coast and Geodetic Survey.
* The Indian River Lagoon is the longest lagoon in
Florida. It stretches nearly 140 miles. The Indian River Lagoon has
no tidal action and is brackish.
* The total recorded length of all streams in the
Sunshine State is 10,550 miles.
* The St. Johns River is the longest river in
Florida. Its length is recorded variously as 273 miles long (U.S.
Geological Survey) to 318 miles long (State Board of Conservation).
The reason for this confusion is that the river's headwaters are so
ill-defined that it is impossible to determine with any certainty
the river's point of origin.
* Florida has 4,510 islands ten acres or larger in
size, which is the second highest total in the United States. Only
Alaska has more islands.
1513 Juan Ponce de Leon sighted the Florida
peninsula today, although he would not go ashore until April 2.
1863 The U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson today seized the
British schooner Pacifique at St. mark's.
1901 The Florida State Federation of Labor was
organized today in Jacksonville. M. A. Ham of Tampa was elected
president. The major topic of the Federation was to press for
enactment of legislation limiting working days to eight hours.
1911 The City of Fort Lauderdale was
1960 The United States Navy test-fired its
revolutionary Polaris submarine-launched missile off the coast of
Cocoa beach today.
INTERESTING FLORIDA FACTS:
* Florida has over 10,000 bridges throughout the
* The Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys is the
longest precast and prestressed segmental concrete bridge in the
* Forty-four bridges connect the Florida Keys to
each other and to the mainland.
* Florida has only one vehicular tunnel. It is in
Fort Lauderdale and goes under the New River. It is 826 feet long
and cost $6,473,000 to construct in 1963. Boats passing over the
tunnel have a clearance of 14 feet at mean low water.
1833 The Treaty of Payne's Prairie was confirmed
today. Seminoles agreed to the removal of the Seminole people from
Florida in the Treaty of Fort Gibson, Arkansas, after their
investigation of the new western lands. Removal would take place
within three years.
Chief Charley-E-Mather agreed to the removal. Not
all Seminole leaders agreed with this, and on their return to
Florida announced that they had only agreed that the lands in
Arkansas were satisfactory. Arpeika (Sam Jones), Jumper, Black Dirt,
and Halpatter-Tustenuggee (Alligator) were opposed.
1893 Edmund Kirby Smith, the last surviving full
General of the Confederate Army, died today. Smith, who was born in
St. Augustine on May 16, 1824, was an 1845 graduate of West Point, a
veteran of the Mexican-American War, a wounded veteran of Indian
fighting, and an instructor of mathematics at West Point.
His first task as a Confederate general was to
organize the Army of the Shenandoah. He was severely wounded at the
first Battle of Bull Run, but went on to serve in Tennessee and
Kentucky. He was appointed commander of the Confederate Department
of the Trans-Mississippi West. When Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863,
Smith operated independently west of the Mississippi.
He taught mathematics at the University of the South
for eighteen years following the Confederate surrender. A statue of
Edmund Kirby Smith is one of two representing the Sunshine State in
the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
1955 Marianna (in the Panhandle) reported one
inch of snow today. Tallahassee reported 0.4", while traces were
reported as far south as Palatka.
1967 Dennis J. Patrick O'Grady of Inverness, who
entered the Florida Senate at age 23 years and 3 months, was elected
today. O'Grady is generally regarded as the youngest person ever to
serve in that body.
1856 Companies E and G of the 2nd United States
Artillery fought an engagement with Seminole warrior today near
Chocoliska. The U.S. Army contingent was led by Captain Arnold
Elzey. Two enlisted men were killed and one wounded. Seminole
casualties were not known.
1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville send five
companies of soldiers to investigate a report that a large force of
Confederates are in the vicinity of Three Mile Creek. The Union
soldiers determined that a force of nearly 100 Confederates had been
the area earlier today, but have since left.
1863 Federal army and naval forces evacuated
Jacksonville today. As they evacuated, Union soldiers set fire to
much of the town.
1891 The Florida State Board of Health published
its first report today. The Board lists the establishment of
quarantine stations at Tampa and Pensacola as its primary
1927 H. O. Seagrave became the first person to
drive a car faster than 200 miles-per-hour today at Daytona Beach.
1953 Tragedy struck Largo today when the
Littlefield Nursing Home burned and some thirty-three persons were
1822 The United States Congress established
Territorial Superior Courts for Florida. The courts are to be
convened at St. Augustine and Pensacola.
1831 The court order requiring windows in each
cell of the Leon County jail was rescinded today.
1862 Units of the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry
Regiment are dispatched to make contact with Confederate forces
operating in the vicinity of Jacksonville.
1950 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, while on a
visit to south Florida, today denounced Senator Joseph McCarthy as a
"saboteur" of American foreign policy. Eisenhower's attack comes
just four days after McCarthy had publicly denounced former State
Department official Owen Lattimore as a Soviet spy.
1832 The St. Augustine City Council passed an
ordinance today authorizing the creation of tax-supported free
schools in the city. This is one of the earliest such ordinances in
the American South and in the nation.
1856 Seminole warriors attacked the residence
and plantation of Dr. Joseph A. Braden on the Manatee River today.
Some of the plantation's buildings were burned, several slaves were
spirited away, and a supply of blankets was taken.
1862 Federal officers in Jacksonville report the
presence of about 2,700 Confederate troops in East Florida.
1959 Busch Gardens, a six acre amusement park,
was dedicated today in Tampa. The park has since expanded to more
than 300 acres.